It’s time for personal inventory …

You’ve just experienced the double whammy of first Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas yesterday. You may still be bloated from the feasts, and you’re likely experiencing the after glow of the blessings of these celebrations. But now it’s time to get down to business and make some plans for a new year.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in planning for a new year is failing to first stop and take personal inventory of their lives before planning for new adventures. The result is that we add layer upon layer of spiritual failings onto our lives instead of first fixing what has gone wrong so that we really can have a fresh start in a new year.

One Christian man who was keen at examining his life, not just at the end of a year, but at the end of each day, was America’s first president, George Washington. This great leader saw beyond the facade of the faith he expressed to the feebleness of his walk with God, and sought to make changes. This didn’t happen when he was a wise, older man, but it was in his youth that he sought to take inventory of the reality of his followership of Christ. When Washington was about the age of 20, he wrote the following entry in his prayer journal:

“O most glorious God, in Jesus Christ my merciful and loving Father, I acknowledge and confess my guilt, in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of my sins, but so coldly and carelessly, that my prayers are become my sin and stand in need of pardon. I have heard Thy holy word, but with such deadness of spirit that I have been an unprofitable and forgetful hearer, so that, O Lord, tho’ I have done Thy work, yet it hath been so negligently that I may rather expect a curse than a blessing from Thee.”

What an insightful personal inventory! If Washington would have gone on, from day to day, without seeing the slothfulness of his walk with God, he would have just added layer upon layer of dead experiences to his life. Instead, he stopped and took inventory of the reality of his faith, then saw and acknowledged his failings. By taking these things to God each day, he made himself fully available to God to mold and use him more fully. Each day would be a fresh opportunity in the light of such prayerful introspection.

The result for Washington was that God used him in a mighty way. To this day, Washington is highly respected for his great contribution to the founding of the United States, and is one of the greatest figures in all of American history.

So what do you think God might do with you in a new year if you stopped long enough to take personal, prayerful inventory of your life, acknowledging and submitting to God your failures and sins first before making a single plan for 2014?